The global pesticide market is constantly expanding, but the use of modern, vertebrate-safe pesticides is now harming pollinating insects. As cultivated areas continue to increase worldwide, thus increasing the potential use of pesticides, the market may still encounter environmental constraints in the future.

Trends and key information

According to IndexBox estimates, the global pesticide market has grown from 8.5 million tonnes to 11.5 million tonnes from 2008 to 2020 (with a CAGR of 2.6%). China emerged as the largest consumer of pesticides (2.3 million tonnes), followed by the United States (1.3 million tonnes) and India (911,000 tonnes).

Agricultural development and the extension of cultivated areas, in the face of a growing world population and increased demand for food products, will further boost the pesticide market, which is expected to reach 14M tonnes by 2030.

According to FAO estimates, Brazil has experienced the highest growth in pesticide consumption over the past 25 years (+ 770%) due to the rapid development of the agricultural sector. In 2020, the Brazilian Ministry of Agriculture approved 290 new substances, including fipronil and glyphosate, both banned in the European Union. In this regard, further expansion of the Brazilian pesticide market is expected in the coming years.

The United States is currently seeing a trend indicating reduced amounts of pesticides used. Instead, more potent chemicals like imidacloprid, which is one of the most widely applied pesticide treatments in the world, are now being applied. Compared to the organophosphate and carbamate-based pesticides that were used previously, contemporary alternatives are 95% less toxic to mammals and birds, but more harmful to insects. Presumably, this was one of the reasons for the decline of the bee population in the United States during the period 2018-2020. This massive decline in the bee population has also been observed in other countries, such as Brazil and Russia.

Declining bee population threatens to reduce crop yields of key crops around the world (including berries, apples, cocoa, sunflower, rapeseed, coconut, cotton and oil palms ). This can potentially lead to food shortages and become a factor hampering increased use of pesticides.

The European Union maintains the strictest control over the use of pesticides: here the use of pesticides which have been shown to be toxic to insects (such as imidacloprid, clothianidin and thiamethoxam) is restricted or prohibited. The issue of toxicity will be a constraint for the European pesticide market in the medium term; a moderate increase in the consumption of these products in the EU is therefore expected.

Global production of pesticides

In 2020, global production of pesticides reached 11 million tonnes, or approx. to 2019. The total volume of production increased at an average annual rate of + 2.7% over the period from 2012 to 2020. In terms of value, the production of pesticides amounted to $ 65.9 billion in 2020 estimated at export prices. The total value of production increased at an average annual rate of + 1.7% from 2012 to 2020; the trend structure has remained relatively stable, with quite notable fluctuations in some years.

China (3.8 million tonnes) was the country with the highest volume of pesticide production, accounting for 34% of the total volume. In addition, the production of pesticides in China was twice the figures recorded by the second largest producer, the United States (1.6 million tonnes). India (1.2 million tonnes) ranked third in terms of total production with a 10% share.

In China, the production of pesticides increased at an average annual rate of + 4.3% over the period 2012-2020. The other producing countries recorded the following average annual production growth rates: the United States (+ 1.3% per year) and India (+ 5.4% per year).

Global imports of pesticides

In 2020, overseas supplies of pesticides fell by -2% to 5M tonnes, down for the third year in a row after two years of growth. The total volume of imports grew at an average annual rate of + 2.9% from 2012 to 2020. In terms of value, imports of pesticides fell to $ 28.8 billion in 2020. Overall, imports, however, continue to indicate a relatively stable trend.

The purchases of the twelve major importers of pesticides, namely Brazil, Canada, Australia, France, the United States, Nigeria, India, the United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, the Germany and Indonesia accounted for over a third of total imports. Belgium (105K tonnes) followed far behind the leaders.

In terms of value, the largest import markets for pesticides in the world were Brazil ($ 2.9 billion), France ($ 1.6 billion) and Canada ($ 1.4 billion) , together accounting for 21% of world imports. The US, Spain, India, Italy, Germany, Australia, UK, Belgium, Indonesia and Nigeria lag somewhat behind, together accounting for 26% additional.

Source: IndexBox IA platform

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